You’re struggling to catch your breath, your lungs are burning, and your legs are aching, but you don’t dare slow down because it will affect your timing. Why would anyone want to join a race?

I’ve always wondered why so many Singaporeans join the races each year, when they seemed to be so tortuous. Then I found out about this thing called ultramarathons, and discovered that taking part in a race didn’t need to be so horrible after all. (You might think this sounds ridiculous, but hear me out!)

Ultramarathons involve distances of more than 42km (a marathon), and typically range from 50km to 100km or more. This sounds impossibly long, but consider how many participants run the race.

Many of the ultra-runners I met jogged slowly and walked when they were tired. They stopped frequently to rest. They took their time to stop and eat. Some even slowed down to keep others company, especially at night. There was just no rush.

Many runners didn’t care about “doing well”. Their only fear was DNF (Did Not Finish). There was only one goal: Don’t give up.

After trying a couple of ultramarathons, I realised this: If our spiritual life were to be a race, it would be an ultramarathon.

We can walk when we are feeling low. We can stop to rest. We can slow down to help others, or ask others to walk with us. We don’t have to worry about how “well” we do. We just need to stay in the race—and finish.

The thought gave me a new perspective of Hebrews 12:2, which exhorts us: “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

The word “race” can give the impression that our walk with God needs to be done quickly—like in a shorter race, when we are under great pressure to “perform”.

But if we think of this spiritual journey as a long-distance race, then we can take it slowly. In this “race”, It’s okay to stumble or fall along the way. It’s okay to walk when we feel burdened. It’s okay not to be perfect. We just need to stay in the race, and not give up.

What’s more, if we fix our eyes on Jesus, He’ll not only give us the perseverance to finish this race, but also bring our faith to maturity and perfection. It is Jesus who will enable us to finish well. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Do you feel you’re “progressing” slower than other Christians? Are you struggling with sin? Are you finding difficulty reading the Bible or praying? Don’t give up. Just stay in the race.

 

Jesus, You know how weak, inadequate,
or tired I feel sometimes in this spiritual race.
Please give me perseverance to stay in the race,
and to keep going with Your strength and grace.

 

Looking for biblical resources to help you stay in the race with Jesus? Visit our #LetUs site.

Leslie Koh spent more than 15 years as a journalist in The Straits Times before moving to Our Daily Bread Ministries. He’s found moving from bad news to good news most rewarding, and still believes that nothing reaches out to people better than a good, compelling story. He likes eating (a lot), travelling, running, editing, and writing.

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